Vandals have targeted a play park just months after it underwent a a major revamp.
The Den in Turriff was spruced up, with more than £37,000 sensory equipment installed to ensure it was fully inclusive for children.
But Friends of the Den, the group behind the project, has been dismayed at repeated vandal attacks and have decided they will do no more improvements.
In the latest incident, which has been reported to police, the sensory water funnel was burned, leaving holes that means the water just pours out. Two Perspex peep windows have also been spoilt.
The culprits have also taken a gouge out of the slide and attempted to rip a sensory board from its posts by breaking the bottom attachments.
One of the park’s favourite features, a xylophone, which was installed in February and cost £1,700, has also been damaged. The mallet, which was well attached to the board, has been removed meaning the children can not play it anymore.
Morag Lightning, chairwoman of Friends of the Den, said: “This isn’t the first time there’s been vandalism.
“Last year we got two great big springer toys, one of them is shaped like a donkey. It’s fully accessible, we wanted more than one piece of fully accessible equipment so that everybody had more than one piece of equipment to play on, and they ripped that out of the ground and destroyed the base of it. So, we had to pay to get that reinstalled.”
“The committee has actually decided that we’ve had enough now. It’s taken the enjoyment and the fun totally out of it for us.”
An inclusive play space
The committee worked hard to create a play space for children suitable for all ages and abilities after realising Turriff has limited facilities, particularly for those in wheelchairs or mental health problems.
Mrs Lightning added: “We did a survey and found that the sensory equipment helped these children. Our feeling was that the park already had things for able-bodied children so we wanted to start with accessible and sensory so that every kid had more than one piece of equipment.”
The Den has become a popular spot, which the committee has found heartening even with the vandal attacks.
“It gave you that warm feeling in your heart that you were doing something good,” Mrs Lightning said.
“My best personal feeling was one day I was down there with my daughter and I saw someone in a wheelchair on the roundabout laughing and having fun and that to me made everything worth it. To see that happy, smiling face was just a lovely feeling.”
A “whole town effort”
Children from Turriff Primary School were involved in fundraising for the park by selling hot chocolate spoons and helping out at fundraising fun days at the Den.
Some of the equipment also came from the old Markethill School when the replacement was built.
During lockdown, local groups who had been fundraising through different initiatives contributed towards the upgrade.
Mrs Lighting described it as a “whole town effort” and said it was a shame that the vandals had not ruined the fun for everyone.
Anyone with information about the latest incidents should call 101.